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Lebron For Griffin Say What?

Lebron James Blake Griffin

Lebron for Griffin

Miami Heat superstar Lebron James has the ability to exercise an early out clause in his contract this offseason and potentially leave Miami in free agency. Up until know the speculation regarding a potential opt-out by James has been centered on a return to Cleveland. With the Cavaliers a mess the odds of James returning to his original team are a long shot. Over the past week a new potential James destination has become a popular talking point. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who’s covered James since his high school days and throughout his NBA career, believes the Los Angeles Clippers could wind up being a serious contender for James. According to Windhorst the Heat are “quite aware the Clippers could end up being a competitor if James elects to opt out, perhaps the most serious contender of all.”

According to Windhorst James has a strong relationship with Chris Paul and Doc Rivers. Paul is the godfather of James’s son Bryce and the two stood up in each other’s wedding. The Clippers would have to make personnel moves in order to acquire James with a sign and trade, potentially built around Blake Griffin.

Griffin Lebron Trade

Griffin for Lebron trade?

Wednesday night in Los Angeles hoops fans were treated to a show by the two main parties involved in the speculation when the Heat outlasted the Clippers for a 116-112 victory. James had 31 points 8 rebounds and 12 assists in the victory, with Griffin putting together one of the most dominant performances in his NBA career. The Clippers forward had 43 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. It was yet another exemplary performance for the Clippers big man who’s elevated his game to the next level during the absence of Chris Paul. During the month of January Griffin averaged 25.7 points per game with an impressive .554 shooting percentage. His foul shooting, once a weakness, has improved as the season has gone on with Griffin shooting near 70% from the free throw line. Griffin is in the top ten in Player Efficiency Rating at 23.92, a career high. At twenty-four Griffin is clearly taking his game to the next level, with many touting him as a potential most improved player.

Lebron James will turn 30 during the next NBA season. While the four-time MVP has shown no signs of wear and tear he’s played an incredible amount of games during the past several years due deep playoff runs and international basketball. If Los Angeles does trade a package involving Blake Griffin for James they’ll be dealing a young star on the ascendency for one of the greatest players in league history who could potentially be starting the downside of his career. The opportunity to acquire one of the greatest players in the history of basketball to pair with Chris Paul is awful appealing, but is one or two potential title runs worth dealing a young superstar like Griffin? Here are the pros and cons of the deal.

Why a potential deal makes sense for Los Angeles: It’s no secret that Chris Paul wants to win an NBA title now. The star point guard has dealt with injury issues throughout his career and may not have that many prime years left. James has never had the luxury of playing with an elite point guard like Paul. The combination of the two, along with the presence of Doc Rivers and the remaining Clippers core could make the team instant favorites in the west. Windows of opportunity can be fleeting in the NBA and the chance to make a couple of title runs should be awful appealing to Clippers management. The impact on the Clippers brand can also not be exaggerated. Even with the criticism James earned following the famous “Decision” he’s one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. Beyond the obvious success on the court the presence of James would be a tremendous asset from a business perspective.

Trade between Miami Heat and Clippers

Lebron James Blake Griffin

Why the deal doesn’t make sense: With the amount of mileage both Paul and James have there is no guarantee of health. If Paul continues to miss time due to injury and the seemingly unbreakable James starts to wear down the Clippers could find themselves in a difficult situation. Paul hasn’t played over 70 games in a season while a member of the Clippers, and he’ll have played 60 games or fewer in two of those three seasons. If the Clippers have the opportunity to deal Lebron James for Blake Griffin its likely an absolute no-brainer but not as much of a sure thing as it was at the beginning of the season. Griffin’s play this season, especially in the absence of Paul, indicates that he’s clearly taking his game to the next level. With the sheer athleticism that Griffin possesses there’s no telling how far he can take his game. He’ll never be the equivalent of Lebron James, but may surpass an older James in the next couple of seasons, something the Clippers are going to have to consider.

Right now the Clippers need to focus on the postseason and beyond. The rumor is that Paul will return in the next week, once-again healthy and ready to the second half push. Chris Michaels

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Should the Lakers Trade Pau Gasol?

Pau Gasol Trade

Pau Gasol

Amidst the excitement around the return of Kobe Bryant, recent comments by Pau Gasol have reminded the Lakers organization that the veteran big man is still not 100% comfortable in the Mike D’Antoni offensive system. Thursday Gasol vented to the press his frustration about not getting the ball in the post and how that directly affects his aggressiveness. Even with Dwight Howard in Houston and not taking up space in the post it’s clear that Gasol still isn’t completely happy with his role in the current incarnation of the Lakers offense.

With one-year left on his contract and an option for next season the Lakers have a decision to make that could directly impact the remainder of this season and have big implications on the club’s immediate future. On one hand the Lakers have a proven commodity in Gasol, a veteran big man who’s still among the top 10 centers in the National Basketball Association. The Lakers are still in contention, albeit battling a large group of teams for the final couple of playoff positions in the ultra competitive Western Conference. Due to his expiring contract Gasol is a prime trade target. He can help a contending team immediately and the fact his contract can be off the books after this season makes him an interesting commodity. In re-signing Kobe Bryant for two more seasons at a dollar amount that many nationally thought was a bit steep the Lakers have reduced their flexibility to attract immediate offseason help. The decision on whether or not to keep

Gasol will likely rest on how he plays out the season and whether or not he finds a comfortable place in the D’Antoni system.

According to published reports the Lakers haven’t had any trade discussions with other teams, but there are a few compelling options out there. The Lakers will have to balance the need to get production from Gasol but also weigh any interest to move him for future flexibility, or immediate talent. All indications are the club has interest in Gasol beyond this season, but they also want to maintain their ability to attract a top free agent over the next handful of off-seasons when several such players may become available, including Lebron James and former UCLA star Kevin Love. The issue with trading Gasol immediately is the reality that the Lakers may not get a solid return. One compelling potential option is Los Angeles native Tyson Chandler. The Knick big man has two years and just over $28 million left on his contract. The perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate provides energy and shot blocking and doesn’t require the club to run plays for him.

According to ESPN Carlos Boozer is also available and has a similar contract as Chandler, but the value of Boozer at this point is questionable. Any other trade speculation is nothing but rumor at this point since there are no indications the Lakers have had discussions with anyone.

Pau Gasol

Gasol

Gasol’s own comments on Friday indicated that his venting may have been more frustration and not an outright plea to be traded. During Friday’s shoot-around prior to the Oklahoma City game Gasol indicated that each individual player has to make themselves responsible for their energy and play on the court, a shift in tone from the day before. Any decision to look to move Gasol in the near term would be a foolish decision by the Lakers. With Kobe Bryant back in the lineup the club will need a solid month to integrate their superstar back into the rotation. Bryant’s style of play since his return, with a much greater emphasis on getting his teammates involved, could bode well for Gasol. The eventual return of Steve Nash can also be a big factor in the Lakers realizing the lineup they envisioned when they went out and signed Steve Nash before last offseason.

The onus is also on Gasol to up his game. Until he proves that he’s the player he’s been in the past his trade value may suffer. The career 51% shooter is making shots at just over a 40% clip, an extremely poor conversion percentage for a big man. The 33-year-old Gasol has played a lot of basketball over the last decade, between deep Lakers playoff runs and a number of international basketball tournaments with Spain. With Kobe Bryant back the pressure is now on Gasol to step up and help the Lakers superstar put together a winning streak that can give them some breathing room in the playoff race. If Gasol can prove he’s still the player he was three years ago the Lakers will have a valuable asset to sign to an extension or convert into assets to build for the future. By:Chris Michaels